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What's on in Cannes Christmas & New Year 2018

Our guide to this festive season in & around Cannes

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Jo Morgan | Cannes Reporter | Published: 19 Dec 2018

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What's on in Cannes Christmas & New Year 2018

The glamorous seafront town of Cannes is a rather glittery and wonderful place to be over Christmas and New Year.

In the lead-up to Christmas, the cobbled streets and palm-lined boulevards of Cannes are transformed into a place of Christmas markets and festive fun, with the ice skating rink glowing pale blue under the fairy lights, and little wooden chalets selling hot gooey crepes and mugs of steaming mulled wine. There’s also a fairground in town over Christmas to keep the kids endlessly amused, and the famous Palais des Festivals will be dressed in twinkling lights that shine across the superyacht port.

There are plenty of events organised in Cannes over the festive season. Nativity plays perform local Provencal traditions, carol services draw a crowd, and there’s a fantastic parade on Christmas Eve along Rue d’Antibes. Those wishing to attend Christmas or New Years mass services will find several welcoming options, from the extremely popular French services at Notre-Dame d'Esperance church atop Le Suquet, to the English-speaking Anglican services held at Holy Trinity Church.

Cannes is well-known for its brilliant shopping and, in the lead-up to Christmas, the narrow lanes bustle with shoppers buying presents at the designer boutiques and department stores, while many bargains can be found at the local markets and high street chain stores. There are musical events through the streets right through December, as well as a busy programme of concerts at the Palais des Festivals, while Cannes’ restaurants, piano bars and wine bars are a lovely place to relax after a hard day’s shopping. 

New Year’s Eve, ‘Le Reveillon’, is brought in with a spectacular fireworks display – in 2018, the theme will be ‘We Are the Champions’. Be sure to book well ahead for restaurants and events in Cannes for New Year as they’re very popular. The French traditionally celebrate New Year’s Day with a seafood feast with friends and family, so you’ll also find some elaborate dining events at local restaurants on the first of January. 

Cannes is putting on an action-packed schedule of events over the festive season. Here’s our guide to the top things to do over Christmas and New Year in Cannes.

Christmas Village

The Christmas spirit gets started early in Cannes, with the opening of the Christmas village on Allées de la Liberté on December 1str. The village will feature traditional wooden chalets selling beautiful Christmas gifts crafted by local artisans and delicious gourmet treats such as roasted chestnuts, macarons, foie gras, waffles, oysters and champagne. Santa will be in attendance at his chalet on Saturdays and Sundays on the run-up to Christmas, as well as on Christmas Eve, from 14:00 to 18:00. Photos with Father Christmas will be available and there’s also a mailbox in the chalet for the all-important letters to the North Pole.

The Christmas village will also have a cottage for children’s arts and crafts, running supervised afternoon workshops every day from December 25th to January 6th from 14:00 to 18:00. The 45-minute workshops include festive makeup and balloon modelling. The workshop schedule will be posted on the cottage. 

Ice skating rink

Get your skates on and carve up the ice at the Christmas ice skating rink on Allées de la Liberté. Mornings between 10:00 and 13:00 are reserved for children between 4 and 10 years of age, when there will be sledding chairs and sliding penguins available for the young children, as well as instructors at hand. The rink will be open each day between 13:00 and 21:00, with late openings on Fridays and Saturdays, and skating sessions cost €3 per hour, including skate hire. On New Year's Eve, there will be a DJ from 21:00 to 23:00.

Provencal crèches

Traditional Provencal nativity scenes, with the famous 'santons' or terracotta figurines, will be on display in several local churches throughout December and January. These include the Chapelle Saint-Cassien and the Church of Notre-Dame d'Espérance which will include moving figures and music.

Christmas Eve

Gather the family for one of the most beloved events of Christmas time in Cannes. This Christmas Eve parade along the Rue d’Antibes features circus performers, acrobats, fairies, musicians and much more from 15:00. At midnight, at the Notre-Dame d'Esperance church, the Provencal Academy perform an enactment of the shepherd’s story, and local leaders present the baby Jesus figure with a selection of local Provencal treats. The choir then sings carols in the language of 17th-century Provence, followed by a midnight mass. During the mass, the ladies of the Provencal Academy knit a shawl, to be given to the first child born in Cannes after midnight. This event is hugely popular with tourists and locals, so get there early.

New Year's Eve

The most glamorous New Year's Eve event in Cannes is the 'Reveillon des Stars' at the Palais des Festivals. This prestigious gala dinner is back offering a gourmet three-course dinner and cabaret performances with music by the 'Lady's Orchestra', a glittering way to usher in 2019. At midnight, a spectacular fireworks display will light up the Bay of Cannes, with many people gathering along the forefront to watch. Inspired by the 'Bleus' victory in the World Cup, the theme this year will be ‘We Are the Champions’.

More inspiration...

If you’re interested in more Christmas events, including what's happening in the surrounding villages, then make sure you check out the details in our events calendar.

Events Calendar for Cannes